What is ‘Fair Wear and Tear?’
Other than a common statement within tenancy agreements, fair wear and tear refers to residential lettings and the damages caused by tenants within their tenancy term. ‘Reasonable’ is usually synonymous with the term and used because it allows for speculation to what constitutes as damages.
Deciphering between damages and fair wear and tear is crucial because damages incur costs from the tenancy deposit whereas fair wear and tear does not. Generally, fair wear and tear to the property includes, but not limited to, the three f’s: fixtures, furniture, and fittings. Damages to carpets and decorations may be seen as reasonable but this may come down to the landlords perception. The landlord is entitled to the possession of their property after the termination of a tenancy in the same condition as it was handed over in.
Fair wear and tear can be arbitrary. It is not always clear what damages fall into this category because it can depend on the state of the property when your tenancy commences. Properties that are already old and worn before tenants move in can be easier to damage. To avoid grey areas, choose a property that is already in a good standard and, if furnished, the furniture is in good condition. If you are signing onto a property that may need updating then be sure the estate agent works with a tenancy deposit scheme which will help with any disputes you may have with damages.
Examples of what’s NOT ‘Fair Wear & Tear’
If it needs repairs, specialist care, or replacing it is likely damaged. Ask yourself if it was recklessness or negligence that caused the damage before disputing it. Here is what we believe to be examples of damage that is not fair wear and tear:
- Holes in the wall
- Large stains
- Tears/Burns to carpet
- Cigarette smoke
- Missing appliances/furnishings
- Broken doors/locks
- Large scratches on wooden floors
- Broken windows
Damages during a tenancy term can often bring up disputes with the tenancy deposit when the landlord and tenant disagrees. To help, inventory services are generally provided by the letting agency. Inventory check in and check out will mark the differences between the state of a property before the tenant moves in and when the tenant moves out. The inventory check out is when damages are picked up and a full report with dated pictures can supply sufficient evidence of damages if any disputes occur. The contents of the report help the tenant, landlord, and estate agent settle the costs of any damages or allow the tenant to open a dispute with the tenancy deposit scheme.
It is not always obvious what constitutes damages and grey areas occur in worn properties but this is why tenancy deposit schemes are vital within a tenancy agreement. If a tenant does disagree with a damage claim then they must refer the dispute to the deposit schemes arbitration where the scheme administrators will ask for your information and evidence supporting your dispute. If you’ve not paid a deposit you won’t have use of these services but, don’t worry, you can refer disputes to the county court.